Wednesday, June 8, 2016

How does the gospel operate? Misunderstanding the operation of the gospel; why so many evangelicals are in bondage: Part II

This is a second article in a series about the operation of the gospel vs. the operation of religion. The first of the series can be read at this location. I really recommend that you read the first one found at the link above if you have not already done so, as this article builds on the foundation that the first one laid. It examines the operating force in the gospel as compared and contrasted with the operating force of religion. It establishes the fact that the operating force in the gospel is grace and the operating force in religion is the law. The operating force is the same as the catalyst. It is the igniting principle that makes the gospel effective. It is the thing that allows the gospel message to actually affect change. Paul described it in this way in Romans 2:4: "Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" The transforming catalyst of the gospel is grace which alone establishes a peaceful, trusting relationship with the Father.

I have heard so many pastors and ministers tell me that the people cannot handle unrestricted grace. The most common thing I hear is this: "I know that God's grace is prime, but if I teach the people this they will just sin more. If I teach the real truth of the gospel the people will not be restrained. They will not give enough. They will quit attending services.... and on and on. That kind of thinking is just submitting to the religious spirit and will kick in the operating force of religion. The catalyst for religion is fear and guilt. The problem is that fear and guilt will always create bondage. That is precisely the thing that makes current evangelical dogma so destructive. It is why so many people are on a treadmill, burned out, and miserable. They are afraid to get off the treadmill because they have been taught that getting off the treadmill is paramount to abandoning God. THIS IS ANOTHER POISONOUS LIE. All of the bondage trappings of religion have absolutely no value in establishing a peaceful, trusting relationship with the Father.

It should be obvious that if one has to keep religion engaged to control people that the dogma is really not beneficial for the people. Most evangelical leadership freely admit that they cannot teach grace because it will cause chaos and they will lose control over the people. Well, here is a novel thought; if what leadership is doing to maintain the health and life of the church and includes fear and guilt as the motivating method, then perhaps the health and life of the church is not important. Listen to me church leader... if you have to employ fear and guilt to motivate people, then you are not presenting good news. Good news does not need fear, guilt and intimidation to keep people interested in it. "Rom 8:15  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father!"

The bondage comes from instilled fear of God the Father. The ones instilling the fear are using the operation of religion to control people. It amazes me that so many sermons, and so many bible studies are concerned with instilling fear for the sake of motivation and control. This comes from an erroneous view of scripture. It comes from focusing on the scripture being a legal constitutional document and not the story of redemption. As the first article of this series explains, the operation of the gospel is to completely do away with fear. The Apostle John explained it this way: 1Jn 4:18 "There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. How do you reach perfection in love? The answer is so simple. IT IS BY BELIEVING THE GOSPEL! If you are continually being subjected to sfear by those trying to control you, I have just one piece of advice... "come out from among them and be ye separate" Stay away from the uncleanliness of the operation of religion, Focus on the operation of the gospel and learn to enjoy a peaceful, trusting relationship with your Father in Heaven!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How does the gospel operate? Misunderstanding the operation of the gospel; why so many evangelicals are in bondage

Evangelical Christianity is at a cross roads. Quite frankly its future existence is at stake. It saddens me to see the amount of believers that are in some form of religious bondage. Religion is so binding and so subtle. It indeed is like the metaphor used by Jesus which is leaven/yeast. As yeast permeates the entire batch of dough, religion permeates our spiritual relationship with our creator. The warning to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees is a warning to beware of religion. So then, what is the operation of religion? It is the opposite of the operation of the gospel. What I want to make perfectly clear is that there is an operation of the gospel and there is an operation of religion. They operate completely differently, but somehow, evangelical doctrine has made the operation of the gospel the same as the operation of religion. They say they do not, but practically, they do and it cannot be denied, and it has a choke hold on believers. It causes them to be burned out and miserable.

The true operation of the gospel
One of the main principles in the operation of the gospel is stated in Romans 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" The gospel works by grace and not law. Always! The grace of God, God's unmerited favor, is the driving force in the operation of the gospel. Unencumbered grace, prepares us for a peaceful trusting relationship with God. Think about this; one cannot have a peaceful, trusting relationship with God without unlimited, ever abounding grace. It is grace that is the catalyst for operation of the gospel. The "operation of the gospel" is the way in which God supernaturally brings about transformation to the heart. Upon realizing that there is truly unlimited grace, that we are not in fact under law but under grace, we then, and only then, begin ever so slowly to develop a peaceful, trusting relationship with the Father that allows the gospel to work supernaturally.

This being the case, why do so many churches and pastors put people under the law. They erroneously tell people that once a person as accepted the grace of God, God by his Holy Spirit then gives us/them the ability to live the law. THAT IS A LIE FROM THE PITS OF HELL!!!! This is the lie that continues the bondage. They tell them that the Holy Spirit enables people to be able to read and do. AGAIN, THAT IS A HORRENDOUS LIE!!! Actually, the operation of the gospel relies completely on grace. It relies completely on one having a peaceful, trusting relationship with the Father that leads to us REALLY LOVING THE FATHER. Then, from this place of love for the Father that only comes from grace, one will begin to want to please the Father with her/his love. Real love of the Father will make one begin to love others. Love grounded in a peaceful, trusting relationship with the Father will bring to fruition John 13:35.

On the other hand, and this is what is so, so, so sad to me is that the operation of religion; the read and do mentality of religion; chapter and verse mentality of religion; begins an operation of fear and hiding, that always keeps the believer in the bondage of not measuring up. My friend.... NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY.... YOU WILL NEVER MEASURE UP AS LONG AS YOU HAVE THE OPERATION OF THE RELIGIOUS SPIRIT IN YOUR LIFE. In that state you cannot really love even though you know that you must by chapter and verse. It therefore is so important that
we stay grounded in the gospel of grace 24/7. There is no other message to preach. I will say without shame that I have determined to preach nothing among anyone, except Jesus Christ crucified, and his unwavering, endless, amazing grace.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Doctrines of Demons Part II; Is there really safety in numbers?

If you read the last post "Doctrines of Demons" this is a follow-up. If not, you can read it here. Either way, I want to ask/pose this question; "is there really safety in numbers?" Let's look at biblical history to answer this question. In looking at the scripture, I would simply say this to you; ask Noah, ask Abraham, ask Jacob, ask Joseph, ask Moses, ask Joshua, ask David, ask Isaiah, ask Jeremiah, ask Amos, ask Elijah, ask all the prophets, ask John the Baptist, ask Jesus, ask the twelve apostles, ask Peter or John, ask Paul, ask the first century martyrs, ask Martin Luther.... I could go on and on but surely you are getting the point. All significant movements in Christian History in fact suggest that one could not believe that there is safety in numbers.

So then, why are so many evangelical Christians so complacently content with the status quo, and safety in numbers. All the time I hear people ask the question, surely all the theologians could not possibly get it wrong could they? Or they will say, if you want to be safe, just stick with orthodoxy. Really? The fact is that most evangelicals revel in the idea that there is safety in numbers. I feel that I have personally been rejected by pastors and ministers many times because they feel that safety in numbers is a better way to go.

The truth is that humans in general are unsettled by change. I hear people say that change is scary. Yet, I cannot help but think of the words of Dr. Phil, "Oh, and how's that workin' for ya?" The fact is that many evangelicals have set up for themselves sure heart ache and failure. They believe in a standard of ethical behavior, that while it is an admirable goal, most fail to achieve it. And, when they do fail, they are judged, shunned, and humiliated. They end up thinking that for some reason, they alone cannot attain the standard; that there is something inherently wrong with them. They fail to realize that almost ALL people have the same struggles. The reason for this is that pastors and ministers set themselves up on a pedestal afraid that any admission of their own frailty will give an excuse to the rest of the congregation to stop trying to attain. Sadly, the reality is that the gospel of Christ/God is not  centered on human ethics. Of course, it would be a better world if more people, or if all people strove to be more ethical. But that was NEVER the point of the gospel.

There is a big difference between being ethical and being loving. Some of the most ethical people I have met are likewise cold, calculating and lack any sense of love for humanity. Let's face it, read and do theology reduces one to being obedient or not. Unfortunately, the standard is to the scripture from a legal constitutional perspective. Further, some of the most obedient Christians from the legal constitutional perspective are likewise some of the cruelest, unforgiving people, when it comes to deviation from the legal constitutional perspective. It is sad that I have proven over and over again in blog post after blog post that the legal constitutional reading of scripture is just flat wrong... it's ERROR! Still for the most part I am ignored. I cannot get people to even follow the legal constitutional edict "come let us reason together."

Let me make this clear. If the legal, constitutional reading of scripture is really what Jesus and the first century apostles demanded then, those who fear that things have gotten way out of whack in Christianity are right. But the overwhelming fact is that it was not the priority of Jesus and the first century Christians. If one cannot understand nuance, and the transition that was happening within the writings of the first century, then it may be easy to believe that current evangelical doctrine is right. However, the nuance and the transition is the most important part of the first century writings. Therefore, just like all the biblical history figures that I mention in the first paragraph, those who did not feel that there was safety in numbers, but rather were willing to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we today should not be so smug as to believe that there is now safety in numbers. Because of this, the evangelical church entertains way too many doctrines of demons.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Doctrines of Demons

1Ti 4:1-5 NLT  Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.  (2)  These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.  (3)  They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.  (4)  Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.  (5)  For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Unfortunately, this prophecy came true in the late first and early second century. But more than that, these doctrines of demons, of which there are many, were brought forth into orthodoxy. So let's identify within Christian History this prophecy. They forbid marriage and eating certain foods. Interestingly, Roman Catholic Priests were forbidden to marry, and fish was the only meat that could be eaten on Friday's and throughout Lent. I mention this because it merely frames the times when doctrines of demons would be brought into orthodoxy. How is this turning away from the true faith? It is merely an example of making rules and regulations, having a legal constitutional reading of scripture, and moving away from the solely redemptive purpose that was taught by Jesus and the first century apostles.

Paul makes a similar claim in 2Co 11:13-15 KJV  "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  (14)  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  (15)  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." Here is a prophecy that definitely declares that Satan will be able to influence ministers. Isn't it interesting that today that most pastors and ministers are so concerned with self-righteousness. They may say they are primarily talking about imputed righteousness, but their sermons, actions, and demands betray them. They do not understand the catalyst for true righteousness and holiness is the gospel of grace, and imputed righteousness.

The point of this is that the doctrine of devils, the leaven of the Pharisees, and the deception of Satan over ministers is clearly prophesied. The most pernicious doctrine that has infiltrated the church is the demand for self righteousness. Many will argue that the Spirit enables people to live righteously and cite that as the reason for demanding read and do righteousness. All I can say is (buzzer sound) False! It is actually imputed righteousness APART from the demand for personal righteousness that will over time be the catalyst for real true righteousness. That is how the Holy Spirit aids the believer to attain righteousness. It it is from the love generated by having imputed righteousness without the demand for personal read and do righteousness, that brings about true love for God and true love for God is what generates righteous living.

Yet, there are so few congregations that believe this that the real true righteousness is never birthed. Rather self righteousness is imposed out of fear based upon the erroneous legal constitutional reading of scripture. Of all the doctrine of devils that has permeated church doctrine, this one is the most spiritually damaging. It is so clear that Jesus and his first century followers changed the hermeneutic to be solely redemptive, redefined the phrase word of God to mean gospel rather than scripture, and meant for GRACE ALONE to be the catalyst for righteousness. Still millions of Christ followers are in bondage to the doctrine of devils.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Holding down the truth in unrighteousness: Many Pastors are guilty of this.

Rom 1:16-18 NASB:  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  (17)  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."  (18)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

What does it mean to suppress the truth in unrighteousness? Well, let's look at this passage from Romans to see if we can get a clue. First of all, in verse 16 Paul is stating the fact that he is not ashamed of the gospel. Why would one need to be ashamed of the gospel? Well, it would have to be that the good news, was such good news, such unbelievably good news, that it would make the person proclaiming it to seem foolish. Isn't it interesting that Paul in 1 Corinthians stated that the gospel was foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the religious. And so it remains today, the true gospel, the real message of the death, burial, and resurrection is still foolishness to those outside of Christ and a stumbling block to those with a religious bent.

I have had pastors look me in the eye and tell me. Yes, I know how gracious God is but if I let my people know that message they will abuse it. They will sin more, they will not pay enough offerings, they will be given a license to sin. What they really mean is they will be difficult to control. These pastors are suppressing (holding down) the truth in unrighteousness. There is but one righteousness. It is the righteousness of God imputed because of faith. It is best stated in this passage: Rom 1:5 NASB "through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake," The only obedience that matters to God is believing the report.

Now while the current understanding has those suppressing the truth in unrighteousness as being the so called world, unbelievers that is clearly not Paul's intent in this passage. There is a very interesting phrase in verse 22. It simply says, "professing to become wise they became fools." This is a direct reference to humanity gaining the knowledge of good and evil. The knowledge of good and evil does not give a clue as to the nature of the righteousness of God. If it did, religion would have figured out that God was gracious from the very beginning. After all in Gen 1:31, after creating male and female God said it was very good. That is the first place in the scripture that God declares man righteous because he said so.

Yes, it is hard to believe that God imputes righteousness for faith. Yes, it is hard to believe that one is righteous simply because God has said it. Still that is the gospel (good news.) So, every-time any minister knows about the grace of God, and does not proclaim it loud and clear, he/she is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is what the Jews of the first century were doing in Jesus time. They were suppressing the truth in unrighteousness when they denied the gospel and did not believe the report. Think about it. There is no way that those who do not believe the gospel, who are members of the so-called world are suppressing the truth. They are not even thinking about the truth. The do not know the truth, and therefore cannot suppress it. 

Only the religious mind that was born of the knowledge of good and evil can suppress the truth. They are the only ones interested in suppressing the truth of the gospel. It is for the fear that some might sin. It is a religious phenomenon and it has unfortunately crept into the church by the leaven of the Pharisees. Pastors, ministers, I implore you. Stop suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Common distortions of Scripture; Points preachers make that are not really in the text I

This will begin a series on scripture passages that preachers distort to make points that the text does not make. Many of these are self serving. Many help the preacher keep control of the flock. Many are just well accepted interpretations that are not born out by the text in grammatical and historical context. I think that it would be much better if the average church going Christian was more knowledgeable of what the scripture really says, and far more critical and discerning of what they hear. But for now, I guess that will be my job to point these things out.

Rom 10:14-15  "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  (15)  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!"

There is more than one distortion is this passage of Romans, that is, from 10:9-17, but we will deal with them individually and have already written in past articles about Romans 10:17. It is related to the distortion of 10:17 but needs to be dealt with on its own. My question is how did preaching as it is now commonly practiced ever come into being? The truth is that Paul is only speaking of preaching the gospel and the only job for a preacher, under the new covenant is to preach the gospel of Christ.

The distortion comes about by only using Romans 10:14. So often, I have heard preachers defend their preaching of just anything in the bible by isolating Romans 10:14 from verse 15. Verse 15 explains very clearly that the thing to be preached is the gospel. Therefore, preachers have no biblical edict to preach what they preach most Sundays as it seldom is the gospel. They usually preach about how to be a better person, or how to be blessed by God, or how to make sure that they are receiving the blessings of Abraham. The truth is that all of the above is best answered by preaching the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is only in the preaching of the gospel that anything of value happens at a church service.

Even the seasoned saint needs the gospel regularly. The gospel is the spiritual catalyst that brings about the transformation, and stands the saint in the stead of the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. Romans 10:9-17 expresses unquestionably that it is the gospel alone that the preacher must preach. So one has to wonder why so many preachers preach sermons that have little if anything to do with the gospel? The answer to this question has to be that there is a disconnect between preaching and its new covenant biblical function. It can only be from removing the obvious context of this passage.

It should be understood that the meaning of preach (kerusso in the Greek) is herald, publish, or proclaim. That is what it means to preach. One is not instructed to proclaim the bible per se, but rather to proclaim the gospel of Christ. One should herald or publish the gospel and should NOT be condemning behavior or presenting ways to be a better person. The gospel alone performs that function.

Monday, March 7, 2016

One reason so many churches are like cults; Twisting or misunderstanding Hebrews 13:17

 Heb 13:17  "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

One characteristic of all cults is having leaders that simply must be followed and never questioned. If you look for the top 10 characteristics of cults on line, you will always see authoritarian leadership as number one. Autonomous and authoritarian leadership is something that one should steer clear of and yet, it is a prime characteristic of most churches, especially those that are non-denominational in which the leaders do not have a hierarchy to answer to. They often use phrases like you have a rebellious spirit, or so and so simply cannot submit to authority.

As I have stated so many times, Jesus and his followers changed the interpretation of scripture from a legal constitutional reading to a solely redemptive reading and the same is true here. One cannot take the scripture as a hard fast rule book and properly follow Jesus Christ. But in this case, in Hebrews 13:17, the actual grammar coupled with the occasion of the letter also demands a different understanding of the scripture than the one so commonly used by authoritarian leaders to demand that they be followed unquestionably.

Two things to consider in interpreting what was meant to the Hebrew believers. First is the occasion of the letter. They had waited and waited for the judgment of the temple system and it had not come as prophesied. They were being persecuted by the non-believing Jews, and many were ready to renounce Christ, and go back to temple Judaism without their Messiah. This was to avoid the persecution from the Jews and the Romans. Second, given the circumstances of the occasion of the letter, the way it reads in the NIV is more likely the actual meaning of the verse.

"Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you." Hebrews 13:17 NIV. The verb PEITHESTHE, with the first meaning of confidence or "have confidence" goes well with the above occasion of the letter. The writer of Hebrews is telling them to *have confidence* in the message of Christ that their leaders had given them. It was not giving them direction to just willy-nilly obey whatever their leaders said. Their leaders were given responsibility to promote the gospel and make sure that it sunk in and progressed. This follows the redemptive directive of Jesus and his first century followers. It is not a rule or regulation that some preacher can quote on any occasion to prove that one must obey all of his or her commands.

When you find leaders that demand that they are the authority set in place by God and that the rest of the congregation must follow and obey them, you have leaders that are twisting and misusing this passage of scripture. It is revolting when I hear pastors and leaders boast about how obedient their flock is. This is just another indication of how far evangelical Christianity is off the mark and how much the so-called leaders need to humble themselves and seek true understanding instead of just continuing to follow the dogma line. This is a time for examination and questioning. It is not a time of following lock step no matter what! This is not the only reason that evangelical Christianity is so cult like, but it is one of the main ones, and it is the perfect tool for power hungry leaders to dish out spiritual abuse.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Here's One Thing Wrong with the Evangelical Church: A message to Preachers.

Here is a meme photo that I saw on my Facebook page the other day. I'm sure the person meant well but it is just plain false. In fact, it is precisely what is wrong with evangelical Christianity today. Nowhere in scripture are we told to preach the bible. The fact is we are told to preach the gospel and that is a very different thing. This photo assumes that one should have a legal constitutional focus on the scripture and that is incorrect. Jesus and his first century followers that wrote the New Testament demanded that the scripture have a redemptive focus. It was a solely redemptive focus John 5:39-40.  The did not see the value of scripture beyond the redemptive message.

So then, what is the great commission? Mar 16:15  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Nowhere does it say preach the scripture. The gospel is the message that God wants spread abroad. The example that we all should follow is that of the Apostle Paul. He stated in 1 Cor 2:2 that he determined to know nothing among the Corinthian believers except Jesus Christ crucified. By that he meant Jesus Christ risen in glory. By that he meant Jesus Christ has overcome the world and the devil. It is preaching the bible and not the gospel that has Christianity so schizophrenic.

The scripture is the redemptive narrative and it portrays various stages of unfolding revelation about God's purposes in the earth and his plan for humanity. It was always written to a specific people with specific situations. Therefore, much of the scripture is situational and not universal. Can we learn from those situations? Absolutely! Are they a legal constitutional formula that needs to be followed as a statute? Absolutely Not!

Preacher, if you will listen to me this day, then I beseech you, by the mercies of God, determine this day to only present the gospel. What is the gospel for the different stages of the biblical narrative? It is clear that God wants us to know that he is merciful and he rewards faith in the fact that he is merciful. You only need to look to God's dealings with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David to see his mercy and his rewarding of faith. Yes, sometimes the faith expressed itself in actions, but that also changed based upon the revelation that had unfolded.

The gospel message for today is best expressed in 2 Cor 5. There is not a clearer explanation of the gospel than this: 2Co 5:14-21 NASB  "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;  (15)  and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  (16)  Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.  (17)  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  (18)  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,  (19)  namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  (20)  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  (21)  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Preacher, today your sole responsibility is to preach/proclaim reconciliation. People need to be reconciled to God! That simply means that though it is difficult to do, they must BELIEVE without wavier that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. That he has declared us righteous, not by our ability to obey the Law but by our willingness to believe the message preached, and if you are preaching the bible and not the gospel, you will have to answer for it one day.


Monday, November 16, 2015

The importance of the gospel in Spirit Filled expressions of Christianity

Why was Paul’s focus on the gospel so strong? Why did he insist on knowing nothing amongst the Corinthians save Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Again, the gospel was the reason. I believe this answer might shock you but I know it is right. The gospel is important for the believer to use as a plumb line, as a level, and as transient to keep the lines straight. Otherwise, it is easy to get unbalanced. That’s right, the gospel keeps the believer balanced in the Spirit.

Most, if not all expressions of Christianity is unbalanced because the gospel is not made the top priority, is not kept in focus, and is not the overriding force in Spiritual experience. For the purposes of this article you have essentially two factions. One I will call Spirit-Filled and the other I will call cessationists. Both of these groups have lost proper focus because of not putting the gospel first and foremost. Yes, it must always be first, and yes it must always be foremost. If one does not have the gospel first and foremost it is easy to fall into either spiritualism which leads to witchcraft, or dead letter Christianity whereby the accuser of the brethren himself creates a dead religion. Don’t get me wrong, the so called Spirit-Filled group works for the accuser as well. Both groups perpetuate accusation and bondage.

If you attend a spirit filled group, you will undoubtedly encounter spiritualism that is not in and of the Holy Spirit, and if you attend a cessationist group you will undoubtedly encounter judgmentalism that is not in and of the Holy Spirit. The only thing that will combat this is having the gospel of Jesus Christ be put first and foremost. When the gospel is first and foremost then you will automatically have Spirit-filled saints that are balanced, level and straight forward. So what is the gospel then?

The gospel is summed up in the following: God has reconciled humanity to himself and is not imputing sin. God is our Father and loves us as a perfect Father would love Children. God has adjudicated humanity just and right by the sacrifice of Jesus. God wants us to embrace this truth, and put complete trust and faith in Him. The believer IS the righteousness of God in Christ. Nothing else will help us gain right standing with God, any obedience we ever have results from believing the gospel and resting in God’s grace. If you want chapter and verse get a hold of me by email or comments. If you read your bible a lot you will know that what I have written is right and the Spirit of God will bear witness with your spirit that it is..

Without the gospel being always in the forefront, FIRST and FOREMOST. You end up with spiritualism where prophets and prophetsesses become accuser’s of the brethren or dead assemblies where the book is worshipped as an idol and used to accuse the brethren night and day. By brethren, I mean both brothers and sisters. I use the word because it is the most familiar to those who hold the KJV bible in hightest esteem… let me repeat this, if you want chapter and verse contact me, and if you read much at all you know this is right!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but exactly what is it? Part 4

Paul's famous words from Romans chapter one are widely known and quite often quoted. However, this begs the question that if we are truly not ashamed of the gospel why is it so neglected on Sundays from the pulpits across the country? Why is it that so seldom one hears the gospel message? Is it the assumption that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus is well known by all, and the saved saints in our churches need to hear more law so they can become better kingdom dwellers? Why is it that Paul claimed to know nothing among the Corinthian believers save Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Why was the proclamation of the resurrection so important to them back in the first century, and so apparently unimportant to us here in twenty-first century? Does it seem the least bit odd that 20 centuries later one hears so little about the resurrection and resurrection life? I dare say that in most churches the resurrection is relegated to a couple of weeks out of the year. I have to laugh that some churches today are so against what they call tradition that they don't even speak of the resurrection on the day it is celebrated.

You want to know what I think? I think that they are not exactly sure what the gospel is. I think that they believe that the gospel is merely a step in salvation that makes it necessary to explain all the rules and regulations that will allow the saint to grow stronger as a Christ follower, and that the focus needs to be on improvement in the accepted regulations. Forget about the fact that Jesus paid it all. Forget about the fact that it is already done, not only so, but already done from before the world was created. Forget that because of the death, burial and resurrection that those who believe the gospel message are adjudicated the righteousness of God, possessing the righteousness of God, and all the blessings of Abraham. I know, the gospel is really hard to believe. It can't be that simple can it? Certainly I must do something to show how worthy I am of blessings and salvation, that only makes sense right?

Stop right there!!! Read this carefully!!! (I'm shouting).... YOU WILL NEVER BE WORTHY OF SALVATION OR THE BLESSINGS!  Awh now, let me repeat myself.... You will NEVER be worthy of the blessings and salvation! That is the gospel. That is the good news. God was in Christ Jesus; reconciling the world to Himself; not counting sin against us because of Jesus Christ, and He made Jesus who did not even understand the concept of sin, become sin for us that in Him we might be made the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD in Him. That's the gospel! That is all there is.

This brings peace with God and causes real, true, love for God. This is the gospel. Our real, true love for God will then begin to help us transform into beings of love, that is precisely what the scripture means by the phrase "faith working through love." It is Jesus faith in the Father that demonstrated the love of God by the cross. Apprehending Jesus faith by the measure of faith given to us by the Holy Ghost upon hearing the gospel message is what transforms us into disciples of Jesus.

If you don't hear this clear concise explanation of the gospel every time you meet then something is amiss. If you are hearing how you can be better, have more faith, be more obedient, be more like King David or the Prophet Daniel, then you are NOT hearing the word of God which is the gospel. Your faith comes from hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ Romans 10:17. Study that chapter in a few versions of the bible and do not stop until you know for sure that the word of God for new covenant saints is the gospel of Christ. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what exactly is it? Part 3

Rom 1:15-17 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

This begins the third installment of this series about the gospel. I believe that it is necessary for two reasons; 1) it is difficult to identify what the content of the gospel is when asking people to define it, even church leaders are somewhat unsure; 2) It is not shared as regularly as the first century apostles insisted, especially Paul. For example, Paul claimed that he had determined to know nothing amongst the Corinthians except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, (1 Cor 2:2.) In that statement, one can see how important the gospel was to Paul. It is also important, to note that according to Paul, the full message of the gospel was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15;1-4.) I will develop this more in further posts, but for now, it will suffice it to say that the gospel in Paul's mind was very simple.

Let's look at the clause, for therein the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. Last time I wrote about the righteousness of God, being two fold, first being a quality of God for providing the gospel, and second it was a state of righteousness that was provided to humanity because of faith in Jesus' faith. Jesus' mission to earth was to have faith. Let me repeat this for effect... *Jesus main mission to earth was to have perfect faith.* How can I be sure you ask? Well it is really quite simple. The first Adam did not believe God and brought about death. The *Last Adam,* (Jesus Christ,) believed God. That was his important obedience. It was the obedience of faith. That is what Jesus did for humanity as the incarnation. He believed against all odds, and it is obvious that he was tempted far beyond anything most people experience, and still believed that God was his Father.... I want this to really sink in.... He was born to Mary, Joseph claimed him as a son, think about that. He grew up with everyone thinking that he was born as normally as the next person. Still at the age of 30 he believed against all odds that he was the Son of God.

It does not stop there however, look at another example... In Luke's gospel we are provided a scene where Jesus has alienated many people with his claims. This was to the extent that his mother, his brothers and sisters were outside trying to take him home to rest. They thought he had lost his mind, think about it... this was his entire family. Still, he believed. He went so far as to say that the ones who believed in Him were is real mother, brothers and sisters. He still believed against all odds that He was the unique Son of God. I want to repeat for effect that Jesus faith was perfect, and yet He still was tempted to doubt. In the garden prior to his arrest, He had seen a glimpse of what He was to face and yet He had to hold on to the faith knowledge that He was the unique Son of God. Think about Jesus faith for a minute. It was indeed perfect faith. I say it was the only thing that would right the wrong of Adam's lack of faith... again I hate to sound like a broken record but, pick this up... if you got it right away, forgive me my folly. Jesus perfect obedience was His perfect faith. I want to repeat this one more time to make sure that I have gotten this point across; *Jesus perfect obedience was His perfect faith.* This is how by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, and how obedience entered by one man and by that came life eternal.... Now, our faith, apprehends Jesus perfect faith by believing this gospel message. This is what is meant from faith to faith, it was from Jesus perfect faith to our faith... more to come.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly? Part 2

Rom 1:16-17 NASB  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH."

Here is the second in this series, I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly. You can read the first one here, but I would suggest you do so after reading this. I am going to use a different version in each one of these for the sake of allowing you to see the subtle differences in translation. The first was the HCSB, and now I have used the NASB. These are a couple of my favorite translations, but most are good.

In this particular post, I want to focus our attention on the phrase from verse 17, "for in it the righteousness of God is revealed." I think the "righteousness of God" has at least two meanings in this passage. The first meaning that I will look at is God's justice or the justness of God, and the second meaning is a quality that allows one to stand righteous before God, guiltless and righteous. Paul uses the term in both ways off and on through-out the epistle to the Romans, and I believe that he uses it that way in all of this epistles. The context determines which use is appropriate and I would like to further suggest, to broaden our understanding that both meanings are inextricably linked.

First off, God is completely just in his dealings with mankind. The gospel proves it, and is the vehicle with which God meets out his justice to humanity. Secondly, and equally as important, being just, He has through Christ Jesus, that is, through the resurrection from the dead, reinstated his first claim about humanity after creating male and female (Gen 1:31.) Through the gospel he has declared that humanity is very good. That is why, when one apprehends the gospel by faith they are adjudicated righteous. I believe that the truth of the matter is that in Christ, the whole world was declared very good, righteous, but we only apprehend it during our days here on planet earth by faith.

This is why it is from faith to faith. Yes, in some translations it states from faith for faith but I guess both are correct. Here is what I believe Paul meant by the phrase from faith to faith. I will expand on this in the third post which is to come, but I must mention it here to help increase understanding of what the gospel actually is. Jesus alone had perfect faith. His faith, that God was His Father; that He was from God; that God was willing to forgive and save; that he could bring peace with God to all; that He was setting to rights what had been lost in the fall... He had faith in all of the above and more I have not mentioned or thought of for that matter.

If the first Adam brought death through unbelief, then it only follows that the *LAST ADAM* would reinstate life from belief. So then, two things are accomplished by this gospel. (1) God is justified and shows his justice by providing a way of escaping the fall, and (2) through the resurrection from the dead, God has proven that Jesus is righteous for his faith. Everyone can then apprehend His faith by faith. It is really quite simple. The gospel is simple. We will see this more and more as this series progresses, stay tuned!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I am not ashamed of the gospel, but what is it exactly? Part 1

Rom 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. (17) For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

I want to begin a series that addresses the question; what exactly is the gospel? I hope it will be informative, and cause us to examine what we mean when we use the word gospel in our writing or in our speech. We must look into what Paul meant by the gospel. Why you ask? The answer is simple. His mission was to the Gentiles. Therefore, all Gentile believers especially, must of necessity, be interested in the gospel according to Paul. Paul lays it out in Romans like no other epistle.

Rom 1:1-7 " Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God's good news-- (2) which He promised long ago through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures-- (3) concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh (4) and who has been declared to be the powerful Son of God by the resurrection from the dead according to the Spirit of holiness. First of all Paul was singled out for the gospel. It was promised by the prophets in the sacred writings, but it was a story about God's Son Jesus Christ, who is Lord, descended from David, but was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection.

(5) We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name, (6) including yourselves who also belong to Jesus Christ by calling: (7) To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul was made an apostle to bring about the obedience of faith to the Gentiles. The Greek word, translated as nations is ethnos and it is the word that is used when you see the word Gentiles translated. Take notice that Paul calls it the obedience OF faith. The King James Version erroneously translates it as obedience to the faith in Romans 1:5, but then, takes the exact same phrase and translates it the obedience of faith in Romans 16:26. That in and of itself is interesting and I have written blog posts on that alone, but that is not for this one at this time.

Rom 1:13-17 " Now I want you to know, brothers, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now) in order that I might have a fruitful ministry among you, just as among the rest of the Gentiles. (14) I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. (15) So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome. (16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. (17) For in it God's righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith." Here is verse 13 it is spelled out that Paul's ministry was to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. This makes Paul's explanation, definition, and description of the gospel most important to us here in the 21st century who make up a mostly Gentile Church.

In looking at Paul's claim here in this passage, I think it becomes important and instructive to understand a little bit about the Emperor Cult, the religion of Rome. Caesar was known as the Savior of the world, who had brought salvation to the world, and he was also believed to be the son of God, and they called him Lord. The reason for this is that he had brought peace to the world Pax Romana but it was done by military force. It is interesting to me that Jesus, his followers, and finally Paul, use this same language about Jesus. In Paul's gospel Jesus is Savior; Jesus is the Son of God; Jesus is Lord, and Jesus saves the world by bringing peace to it.

However, Jesus does not do this by military force. He does it by resurrection from the dead, something that can not be said about anyone else including Caesar. Since Jesus followers lived in Rome occupied Israel, they were very familiar with the claims of Rome, and so it is not strange that they too would believe that Jesus meant to do it by military force. There are those today that still believe that ultimately Jesus will establish peace and his kingdom by military force. But, that was not what Paul or any of the writers of the New Testament were saying.

Paul was saying that what Caesar had accomplished in an imperfect way by imperfect means for the natural world, Jesus had accomplished on a cosmic, supernatural, spiritual level, that set to rights the world, and brought ultimate peace with God. It was a spiritual reality that transcends the natural. There is a lot more to be explored but this will do as a jumping off point with more to come in the next post.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Distorting the message and meaning of the scripture: Part I

Over the last six years, I have written many posts about the way that Jesus and His followers viewed scripture. They saw it as the redemptive narrative that pointed to Jesus the Messiah and His kingdom. Furthermore, they were removing the legal constitutional aspect of scripture that attended the old covenant and were installing a new and better way of achieving obedience. They were rejecting the read and do in favor of the believe and become. But even more importantly, they described a new and better catalyst for creating obedience. Paul called it the obedience of faith, and obedience of the heart.

You can find the operation and catalyst for the real transformation described in this among many blog articles found on this blog.  There are a lot more than just this one article so, if you find it interesting, and want more clarification, you can put "the transformation process" in the search box on the blog, and find several additional posts on this subject. It is my belief that understanding this process as it was explained by the first century apostles is the key to transforming the world around us, and bringing forth the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God.

However, current evangelical and orthodox doctrine ends up distorting the message and meaning of so many passages of scripture. The main reason for this is that current evangelical doctrine, and to a degree orthodox doctrine, focuses on a legal constitutional view of scripture. This makes it a law book and an instruction manual for all faith and practice. Doing this, actually voids the teaching of Jesus about the use of scripture, and leads away from the plan that will bring about supernatural transformation. As a result, we have many distortions of the scripture enshrined in evangelical doctrine.

This is the first blog post, in a series of the same name, that will serve as a guide and index for those to follow. I will briefly enumerate the distortions in this first post. Here is a list some of the verses that are distorted:

1. Hebrews 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

2. Hebrews 13:17 " Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

3. 1Co 14:40 " Let all things be done decently and in order."

4. 1Co 14:33 "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints."

The above verses are used to distort the use of authority within assemblies, and bring about a kind of cultic obedience, elevating leadership way above anything that God intended. This is always the case with the legal constitutional view of scripture. It is problematic because it is used to control people in fairly abusive ways to allow the leaders to achieve their goals and keep people in subjection, in many cases, to their every whim. It brings about a kind of devotion that elevates men and women to the position that should only be held by God.

The truth of the matter is that all of the scripture was written to specific situations, and various different occasions. It is impossible to completely know the circumstances of the occasions, and therefore, it is impossible to know exactly what was intended in more than the way in which the literary and historical context allow. Yet, in the above passages of scripture, I hear pastors and leaders quoting them as though they are a hard fast principle that can be applied to every situation and that is just not so.

In fact, the common use of these scriptures in current evangelical doctrine brings about an unhealthy, authoritarian system that keeps individuals in bondage to their various assemblies, and prevents the atmosphere and teaching that leads to the transformation that I mention above in this post. It relegates the transformation process to a self reformation process that continually heightens guilt and fear.

Jesus said to the first century believers that "they would know the truth (Jesus), and the truth would set them free." Why are so many assemblies today putting people into religious and psychological servitude? Only the gospel, properly understood and proclaimed, will begin to overturn this sorry situation. I can no longer in good conscience remain silent. I am exposing the demon of religion in one of its worst manifestations. Stay tuned as this series will look at each of the scripture passages above, and show how they should be used.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Another King James Only Encounter

Well I just wrote about bumper sticker Christianity a while back and well it happened again. My wife and I were at Captain D's fish restaurant. While we were ordering a man and his wife were just ahead of us and he smiled at us and gave us a tract, and asked us if we knew Jesus as our personal savior. I politely answered yes, and took the tract. They had ordered before us so they were leaving before we did and walked over to our table, told us about their church, and then he said, "we only teach from the King James bible. It is the only version that is inerrant and infallible."

Well, I replied that it was a good version and I liked it but it was not inerrant and infallible. Why did I say that? I really prefer not to have these conversation's, but I also am opposed to people stretching the truth. I then confessed that I was somewhat of a theologian, and that I had taught New Testament at a seminary, and could read Greek a little, and that, while very good and quite accurate, the King James version was not inerrant. He became angry, told me that he had to leave and would not discuss it further. He then (smile) went on telling me about textus receptus, and all the other codeces, and how the King James Version was the only one authorized by God. His reasoning was that God would not give us a bible that had errors.

I once again began to try to point out some of the errors that I think are especially troublesome and he got angrier and said, no, I am not going to discuss this any farther. When I became silent, he began again to try to convince me that the King James Version was the only version that was correct. He said that I could read other versions if I wanted to but they would not be sufficient and that I needed to only consult the King James as the final authority.

By this time, I wanted to laugh out loud but I chose not to be rude. Finally he left. I have to wonder to myself, why are their so many ignorant believers? He seemed to think that we got the King James Version, similar to how people in Star Trek got their food. It must have been instantly put out of a replicator in King James English. Now, I am not trying to put down the King James Version. I like it and I use it a lot. What I would like to have happen is for the saints of God to be a little more open minded, have a little bit more historical knowledge, understand that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and that the New Testament was written in Greek. It had to be translated into English, and no matter how hard one tries something gets lost in translation. Yes, they are sufficient to make us wise for salvation; yes they tell us the redemptive story of God's love for us, but they are not inerrant, and they are not meant to be a legal, constitutional document, nor are they meant to be a science book, or a complete history book.

They should read John 5:39-40 and realize that they are there to point us to Jesus of Nazareth.